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Israel’s alleged undercover killings in occupied West Bank hospital may amount to extrajudicial killings and war crimes: UN experts

09 February 2024

GENEVA (9 February 2024) – Israel’s apparent extrajudicial killings of three Palestinian men at the Ibn Sina hospital in the city of Jenin in the occupied West Bank may amount to grave violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law, UN experts* warned today.

On 29 January, around 10 armed members of the Israeli Security Agency (Shin Bet) and Israel Police reportedly entered the hospital disguised as doctors, nurses, and female civilians. They were captured on CCTV bringing a wheelchair and a doll in a baby carrier into the hospital. After entering a rehabilitation ward, Israeli forces shot dead Basel Ayman Al-Ghazawi, a patient being treated for serious injuries from an Israeli airstrike three months ago, his brother, Muhammad Ayman Al-Ghazawi, and another visitor, Muhammed Walid Jalamna.

Israel claims all three men were involved in “terrorism” by Palestinian armed groups.

“Regardless, Israel is always required to respect international human rights law and international humanitarian law,” the experts said.

“In occupied territory under Israeli control, outside active hostilities, at most Israeli forces may have been entitled to arrest or detain them. They could only use force if strictly necessary to prevent an imminent threat to life or serious injury. Instead, Israel chose to murder them, in flagrant violation of their right to life,” they said.

In addition, under international humanitarian law, “killing a defenceless injured patient who is being treated in a hospital amounts to a war crime,” the experts said, referring to Basel Ayman Al-Ghazawi.

"By disguising themselves as seemingly harmless, protected medical personnel and civilians, the Israeli forces also prima facie committed the war crime of perfidy, which is prohibited in all circumstances,” the experts said.

“We call on Israel to conduct an effective investigation, in line with international law, with a view to prosecuting and punishing those responsible for committing, ordering, and assisting in these alleged crimes, while putting in place procedures to prevent future arbitrary killings and provide reparations to the victims,” the experts said.

They emphasised the international community’s long-standing concern at Israel’s culture of impunity in relation to alleged international law violations by its personnel. In the absence of a prompt investigation into the killings, the experts would urge an investigation by the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.

“We urge all parties to fulfil their international legal obligations to ensure respect for international law, including human rights and humanitarian law in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory, and to cooperate with current investigations by the International Criminal Court,” the experts said.

The killings occurred amidst an alarming increase in Palestinians killed by Israeli forces in apparent violation of their right to life in the West Bank since the 7 October 2023 attack on Israel by Palestinian armed groups. This includes other interferences with medical establishments and personnel protected under international humanitarian law. UN experts have also previously noted Israel’s misuse of excessive counter-terrorism laws in the West Bank, including in relation to detention and prosecution.

*The experts: Ben Saul, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism; Tlaleng Mofokeng, Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health; Morris Tidball-Binz, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; Margaret Satterthwaite, Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers; and Francesca Albanese, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967

UN Human Rights, Country Page: Israel

For more information and media requests, please contact Karen Reyes Tolosa ([email protected]) and [email protected].

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts, please contact Maya Derouaz ([email protected]) or Dharisha Indraguptha ([email protected]).

Follow news related to the UN's independent human rights experts on Twitter: @UN_SPExperts

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